Parties, Exploration, Soul-Searching: The Best Things to Do in GOA
There are few places as exciting and enchanting as Goa. Just think about it – Goa has practically everything you need to have a great time. You could be on vacation or moving homes to the State, but either way, you will never run out of things to do in Goa.
It is little wonder that the numbers of people opting to move to Goa away from the hustle and bustle of the metro cities is on the rise. Even if not permanently, it makes sense to make a move: the climate is good though a little prone to extremes, there is less air pollution and noise, there are more job opportunities today than before, and the overall quality of life is quite good. Add to that the laidback vibe that Goa is naturally blessed with, and it’s like you’re on a permanent vacay!
But as of now, you’re just looking for places to visit in Goa. This is just the article for you, because we’ve compiled a list of things to do in Goa on your next holiday.
Goa wins a lot of brownie points in terms of offering ample opportunities for rest and relaxation. It is replete with gorgeous beaches and a salubrious climate for most months of the year. You will never be short of healthy sunlight, tangy breezes and an overall feeling of goodwill when you’re in Goa. Traditionally, doctors would recommend a seaside holiday for those suffering from nerves, depression, anxiety or heart diseases. If you feel like you need to destress and relax, then just pack your bags and head to Goa. Even if you’re not feeling completely jaded at the moment, a week in Goa will put the roses back into your cheeks!
Goa has over 15 superb (most popular) beaches, each with a charm and unique characteristic of its own. Most people identify Goa with its beaches and the associated party and water sports scene. But you could miss the actual point of these natural wonders: your proximity to the water calms you down and relaxes the tension in your body. Every time you take a dip in the sea or simply sit on the sand and inhale the balmy breezes, you help yourself ease up on your worries and become one with the universe. If you seek spiritual solace or just some quiet time, go to Goa – but the best time to visit Goa if you want peace and quiet is after the tourist season has ended (from November to March). The summer months are great for a spot of early morning yoga by the beach, while the monsoon months guarantee that you will be amongst the very few people walking on the sands.
Apart from the beaches, there is lots to explore in Goa that one often misses out on. Lookup a detailed Goa travel guide online to find the pick of places to visit. But off the top of our heads, we recommend the following: Grande Island, Latin Quarter (Fountainhas, Panjim), Basilica of Bom Jesus, Naval Aviation Museum, Terekhol Fort, Dudhsagar Falls, Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (Panjim), Naval Aviation Museum, Butterfly Park (Ponda), Chapora Fort, Fort Aguada, Thalassa Restaurant (Siolim), Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Anjuna Hill Top Club, Arambol Paragliding Point and Fort Cabo De Rama. And these are just some of its many attractions. Phew!
Goa is so much more than its beaches and tasty seafood and beer. It has a rich history and several monuments and forts that bear testimony to its past. One can trace its history from the 1400s, when Goa was ruled by the Hindu kings of the Vijaynagara Empire and the Kadamba Empire, among others. Post-1560, the Portuguese wrested control over Goa, and for at least three centuries later, staved off determined attacks from the Mughals, Marathas and the Dutch. Despite independence from Portuguese rule in 1961, Goa still retains a lot of its erstwhile Portuguese character. You can see it in the ancient cathedrals and important structures – the latter are used as Government offices today. Every good Goa tourism guide lists the important historical monuments you must visit: Se Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of St Cajetan, Safa Shahuri Masjid, Reis Magos Fort, Corjuem Fort, Shri Ramnath Temple, Fort Aguada, Church of St Francis of Assisi, etc. You will also find several Portuguese influences in the Goan food: dishes like vindaloo, xacuti and cafreal are distinctly Portuguese in origin. Check them out at famous restaurants in Goa.
There is no greater joy – or a better way – than seeing Goa on a bike. Let’s face it – not all roads in Goa are in great shape, and many of the off-the-beaten-track alleys are too narrow for cars. Your best bet when checking out Goa’s many delights is to hire a motorcycle or scooter, and ride wherever you want. You can actually cover a lot of ground on your scooter, so make sure you have a map and list of all the things to do in Goa along the route you are taking. Ask your resort about how to reach some of the spots you wish to visit, and how much you might need to shell out for ferry tickets, cab rides, and so on in certain places.
Every place has a resident population, and Goa is a small state with just over 15 lakh people (as per the 2011 Census and projected growth thereafter). Fishing and farming are major occupations here. In recent years, the State has witnessed a real estate boom wherein villas and bungalows are making way for four-storey buildings. However, the local population comprising Konkani- and Marathi-speaking Goans remain fiercely rustic and charmingly laidback. It is common to see signs of life at around mid-morning, and shops routinely close at sunset. Goans are known for their charm, warm hospitality and inclusive nature. On your next visit, tick off this important item from your list of things to do in Goa: chat with the locals whenever you can to know more about their history, food habits, lifestyle, etc.
It is safe to assume that the entire world descends on Goa for vacations. You will find almost every nationality in the world represented in Goa’s tourist season. Unsurprisingly, enterprising Goans cater to the tourists with several markets and cafes. One of the top things to do in Goa is to go shopping – buy clothes, shoes, beachwear, jewellery, bags, antiques, magnets, wooden items, even handcrafted mirrors, among others. You will love the Wednesday market at Anjuna, the Calangute Market Square and the Saturday night market at Arpora, the seaside stalls and shacks selling everything from swimsuits to fridge magnets and jewellery, and sea-facing cafes that supply you with a constant stream of drinks and snacks. Just be sure to haggle a lot because most prices are suited for international currencies!
If you want to check out the local produce in Goa, go to Mapusa Friday market for fish and dried fish varieties, and Wednesday to the same market for vegetables and meat. The prices are quite low and the food items are fresh and delectable. Goa also has a few supermarkets and stores selling vegan and organic produce. The markets are often busy, and most of the produce flies off the shelves quickly, so get in quickly and shop to your heart’s content.
Goa has long been a magnet for water sports lovers. Parasailing, paragliding, deep-sea diving, underwater exploration, scuba diving, boat racing, snorkelling, and jet skiing…you name the sport, and Goa has it! Get your adrenaline fix by booking yourself for these sports, at various points like Anjuna, Calangute and Aguada. If you’re not into water sports, you can trek or follow the beautiful 1.5 km trail to the Dudhsagar Falls. It is better to book a tour or guide with a licenced tour operator, so that you will not need to work out how to reach the spots or what to do there on your own.
All of your best-laid plans will come to nought if you don’t plan your travel and accommodation wisely. While you should book your flight tickets as early as you can to avoid the last-minute rush, you should also check into a good Goa resort to ensure a hassle-free, comfortable stay. Club Mahindra has three resorts in Goa: Acacia Palms, Varca Beach and Emerald Palms. Each has superbly furnished rooms with all the modern luxuries you wish for. Plus, the service is excellent, and the on-site amenities (swimming pool, gaming zone, restaurants, spa, etc.) can keep you and your loved ones occupied for long. Checking into a good resort is essential if you wish to have a restful vacation – you will need a cosy and comfortable room to relax in after the rigours of the day!
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Memberships, the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com